SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Bay Area commuters are set to get a reprieve from a potential transit strike after a judge indicated at a hearing Sunday that he would grant California Gov. Jerry Brown's request for a 60-day cooling-off period in negotiations.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow is expected to issue a formal order granting the injunction later Sunday. Bay Area Rapid Transit trains would run for at least the next 60 days while the two sides are expected to negotiate further.
Brown's request came after a panel appointed by the governor to investigate the labor dispute concluded that a strike would cause significant harm to the public's health, safety and welfare.
BART, the nation's fifth-largest rail system, serves more than 400,000 commuters each weekday.
The unions went on strike last month, shutting down BART service for four days.
BART and two of its largest unions returned to the bargaining table on Saturday.
Union leaders had warned commuters that they were prepared to strike and shut down BART on Monday for the second time this summer if they didn't reach an agreement on a new contract over the weekend.
Brown argued in a court filing that a strike would endanger "public health, safety and welfare."
The parties remained tens of millions of dollars apart on wages, pensions and health care benefits last week. BART said workers from the two unions now average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually. The workers pay nothing toward their pensions and pay a flat $92 monthly fee for health insurance.
Negotiations began four months ago. BART workers went on strike for four days in July, snarling traffic on roadways and leaving commuters facing long lines for buses and ferries.
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